CASE: WIKILEAKS The most famous case involving free speech recently is, without question, the…


The most famous case involving free speech recently is, without question, the WikiLeaks case. WikiLeaks was created in 2006 by Julian Assange, an Australian journalist, programmer, and Internet activist who considers himself as an ethical hacker. The purpose of WikiLeaks, according to Assange, is to foster more open and transparent governments by revealing things that governments would prefer to hide. According to Stephen Moss, writing in the Guardian in July of 2010, the WikiLeaks Web site is dedicated to being an “uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking.”

Over the years, the site has posted many documents from various governments and corporations. The recent controversies arose in November of 2010, when the site posted the first of many diplomatic communications that were considered classified by the United States government. The New York Times, as well as four major newspapers in Europe, began publishing the documents shortly after they were published on the WikiLeaks site. In April of 2011, a similar controversy arose when WikiLeaks, along with a number of news organizations, published documents concerning the interrogation of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay prison. A soldier in the United States Army, Bradley Manning, was accused of leaking the material, which included documents marked Confidential and also some classified as Secret. None of the documents were classified as Top Secret. The exact number of documents is in dispute, but there is no doubt that it was in the hundreds of thousands.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of the leaks, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity…. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.” (Jackson) Obviously, the repercussions of the published documents were not confined within United States borders and involved multiple countries. The WikiLeaks site was not, of course, located at one physical site, but was hosted at various locations. The United States government had neither the capability nor the authority to eradicate the site, although the Internet sites were subjected to a number of cyberattacks. The New York Times, though in the United States, had no action taken against them. Since the information had already appeared, it would be difficult to make a case for revealing secrets.

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